Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Race

It was finally time to run and actually begin the race, so we were off.  Relived to say goodbye to the start line, we felt strong and full of energy, weaving in and out of heavy crowds.  The cool, early morning temperature felt refreshing, and San Diego's picturesque downtown set the perfect stage for the honeymoon phase of the marathon.

My Ridiculously Awesome Marathon Runner Husband

We sang along to well-known tunes as bands jammed out, and in between roadside concerts, Kyle high-fived enthusiastic spectatorsMany were holding homemade signs and posters with clever sayings including, "Your feet hurt so bad because you're kicking so much assphalt" and "Run like you stole something."  Showing their spirit too, runners were decked out in everything from Elvis costumes and spinny hats, to ballerina tutus and homemade puffy paint shirts.  Perhaps most eye-catching were the pant-less British guards, wearing red tops, tidy whities and bearskin hats.

There we go!

We covered miles and miles with ease and without much to report, except a potty stop or two.  However, when mile 12 came around, it offered a most wonderful treat.  First of all, it marked the end the course's long uphill climb.  Additionally, we got to hear the uplifting cheers and see the encouraging faces of fans whom we actually knew.  Yes, we saw Stacy and Charlize, who'd navigated their way to the race all on their own.  Then, not much further down, we got to wave excitedly to Matt and Kira along the roadside as well.

What a team.

By mile 15 everything got hotter, heavier and started hurting more.  Did I mention hunger had set in too?  At this point, I was stuffing energy gummies and pretzels down my throat and stopping to refuel at every Cytomax and water station.  My pace had slowed.  I was craving the groups of rowdy spectators and ample energy that I had enjoyed so much at the race's start.  Additionally, Kyle's leg had begun cramping, so I started taking breaks every couple of miles, while he caught up.  

Luckily, I got my second wind by mile 18 and began focusing on the finish.  However, Kyle was still hurting, and the more I stopped to wait for him, the harder it was for me to start up again.  When I wasn't running, I was feeling aches and soreness... all over.  So, Kyle gave me the go ahead to trek on without him.  So, that's what I did, but not without many, many, many prayers. 

"We made it!  Now where's my reward kiss?"

If I thought the support beginning at mile 15 was minimal, then it was practically non-existent from miles 20 to 25.  Hearing the voice of my mom over the phone for a couple minutes, listening to Pandora on my i-Phone and devouring half an icy pop were about the only positive things going for me during this stretch.  I looped around what seemed like a deserted island... for what seemed like hours.  Tons of runners were walking.  Even more depressing was passing runners going in the opposite direction.  The difference between them and me?  They'd already completed the formidable island loop.  

My bib was worn, just like me.

As I neared the finish line with less than two miles left, I became overwhelmed with emotion.  Why?  I was about to conquer a dream that had become a goal and now a reality.  I reflected on not just what the race meant to me and Kyle, but what it meant to participants running in honor of a Leukemia victim or survivor.  Not to mention, my mind was sick with worry, not knowing my husband's location and the status of his injury.  As for the rest of my body, it was physically exhausted and finally responding to being pushed to its limit.

The Taste of Sweet Victory

By the time I crossed the finish line, I had been running for a little over four and a half hours, and I was tuckered out.  After meeting up with Kira, Kyle finished just 10 minutes later.  What a relief and answer to my many, many, many prayers.  We hobbled around with Matt and Kira to find Stacy and Charlize and rejoiced together.  We had gone the distance.  

I didn't take off that medal for a whole week straight.  Just kidding... but I thought about it.